Tuesday, September 10th, OTTAWA – The Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) hosted the Agriculture Leaders’ Debate on September 9th. The debate brought together national parties to question them on the pressing issues affecting Canadian agriculture today.
Participants for the debate included:
NDP – MP Alistair MacGregor, Critic for Agriculture & Agri-Food
BQ – MP Yves Perron, Critic for Agriculture and Agri-Food
CPC – MP Dave Epp
LIBERAL – The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture & Agri-Food
The debate was moderated by RealAgriculture founder Shaun Haney and Martin Ménard, a reporter with La Terre chez nous. CFA would like to thank the exclusive sponsor of the debate , Food, Health & Consumer Products of Canada.
The questions covered three key areas for Canadian agriculture: Economic growth, the environment & climate change, and infrastructure. Questions also touched on risk management programming, disaster relief, supply management and more.
The debaters had an animated and lively discussion, where they laid out their vision for the future of Canadian agriculture and how their parties would deal with current issues in the sector. While all four parties were supportive of Canada’s agriculture sector, they differed in their visions of its future and how to help the sector achieve its potential.
The Next Policy Framework and Funding for Agriculture
CFA was pleased to see that all parties agreed that various programs needed to be improved during the development of the Next Policy Framework. The NDP and Liberals both focused on how Business Risk Management (BRM) programs needed to take into account new risks from climate change to build resiliency.
The BQ noted that they had proposed that the government move forward with AgriStability improvements with the provinces that had agreed to them while allowing the other provinces to opt-out, creating a two-tiered AgriStability program. CFA believes this is a proposal that should be adopted by the next government.
Environment and Climate Change
There was a clear consensus from all parties that climate change was an increasing risk factor for farmers across Canada. All parties agreed that mitigation and adaptation of climate change needed to have a strong emphasis in any future programs, while also providing programs that incentivize farmers to adopt sustainable best practices.
While CFA was happy to see this recognized, it was disappointed to see no clear commitments around how these would be achieved or what amounts of funding would be made available to support farmers as climate solutions-providers.
For infrastructure, all candidates focused on the importance of rural broadband access and its importance to business as well as the future of rural Canada. The Liberals noted that they were committed to implementing full coverage of rural broadband by 2025 with $8 billion in funding but were working with provinces and industry to try and reduce the timeline further.
The Conservatives noted that while this money had been earmarked by the Liberals, most of it had not been spent. MP Dave Epp emphasized that these investments need to lead to actual action so that rural broadband could be deployed as quickly as possible.
“CFA is very thankful to all the representatives that took part in the debate. This is an excellent opportunity to give farmers across the country an idea of their parties vision for the future, to help inform their votes,” said Mary Robinson, President of the CFA.
“CFA looks forward to working together with all representatives in our next federal government to help Canadian agriculture reach its vast potential.”